In summer 2022, Leeds medics George Thomas and James Peaty undertook their medical elective at the health post LED supports in Quisuar, in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. Here’s the report George prepared for us:
We really enjoyed our time at the clinic and want to thank the LED charity for giving us the opportunity to go and the local people around the clinic for being very welcoming. We went to the clinic in Quishaur near Huaraz for around a month. This clinic supports the health of the people in the area surrounding Quishaur.
The clinical part of the elective was very varied. Primarily it consisted of us working at the clinic. We would see people with the permanent nurse, Lary, for consultations in the clinic and go on home visits. Often it could be difficult for local people to get access to glasses, so on one occasion we also went to a neighbouring village to do an eye clinic. Furthermore we did lessons in English with the local school where we tried to incorporate teaching about health.
Often there was different health problems to what would be normal in the United Kingdom where both of us are currently at medical school. People would more likely to have late presentations of diseases which could make them more severe. Different medical conditions were also more prevalent for instance parasites were more common. At the clinic we had less access to the resources that would be expected in the UK for instance investigations such as bloods or scans therefore it was very important to work as a team doing the medical fundamentals of history taking and exam well. It was very useful for our training to be able to see conditions which would be less common in the UK and focus in on the core fundamentals of medicine.
The language barrier could also pose a challenge as both our Spanish is not the best. We have to thank both Claus, a local mountain guide, and Lary, the nurse, who we couldn’t have done without who helped with translation from Quechua to Spanish. Though by the end our Spanish had improved a lot and we also have to thank them for that!
It can be difficult for local people to get access to healthcare in the area around Quishuar therefore throughout my time there we realised the importance of clinics such as the one we were at to give medical support. It was a very humbling experience going to such a remote clinic and getting to help treat the local people. I was continually surprised; especially by some of the older people there, by how tough they were and their ability to carry on living quite physical lives with sometimes severe medical problems. Even so the local people were always very generous to me and James. One memorable experience was after a consultation one of the patients very kindly gave us some Guinea Pig which we had never tried before.
After the clinic we also had the opportunity to do some mountaineering in the region with Claus, a local mountain guide who also helped translate at the clinic. This was my first chance to do mountaineering and I really enjoyed it. It was challenging at times, for me especially so when I was trying to sleep at altitude. I was a bit out of breath and only managed to fall to sleep what felt like just before I had to wake up. We ended up going up Mount Urus and Mount Ishinca. It was a really great experience and has made me keen to do more in the future.
We both want to again thank Val and everyone at LED for what was a great experience at the clinic and we really appreciate the help from everyone who made it possible for us to go!